Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Write These Laws on Your Children: Inside the World of Conservative Christian Homeschooling

This book, by Robert Kunzman, is a survey of six conservative Christian homeschooling families, scattered across the country. Kunzman visits them each twice and interviews them and gives them all a survey, trying to discern their attitudes about education, democracy and the intersection of freedom and tolerance in a diverse society.

Kunzman's primary concern about homeschooling is whether such indoctrination in the Christian religion can result in citizens capable of considering the points of view of their fellow countrymen, even when those points of view are vastly different than their own. Can a homeschooled child listen to ideas and values that are foreign to his with any kind of fairness?

To his credit, Kunzman embodies his own values. The portraits he draws of these six families are fair and kind, and while he highlights the problems each family has, he goes to great trouble to highlight their virtues even more. He disagrees with them in several areas, but he does them the honor of disagreeing with their best arguments, not their weakest ones, which makes him a better author than almost any other I've read on the subject.

As in most books like this, some of the families come across much better than others. And unlike most authors, who would put the scary families first in order to draw you in with sensationalism, Kunzman opens and closes his book with the two best families, which is more than fair, it is kind.

I don't agree with Kunzman on every issue, but I really enjoyed reading this book. The family portraits are fascinating - and alternately encouraging and disturbing - and the issues he raises are certainly worth thinking through.

Peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell

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